From Endurance to Dressage
As I sit here in my horse trailer on Saturday afternoon writing this, I am tempted to call this the Hilda Show. Not because the day was about Hilda Gurney, but it was seeing her name on the list of riders that prompted me to commit my non-riding hours to watching instead of hanging around the barns and visiting. I am so glad I did.
Hilda, riding Wintersnow at Grand Prix, was the first rider of the day. Normally when I watch a dressage test, I focus on the horse only and forget that there is even a rider on board, but not on Saturday. I made sure to focus on the rider and her aids. I already know what the horse is supposed to look like. What I need to better learn is what a good rider looks like. Hilda doesn’t make it look easy, but she does look strong. Wintersnow is a big horse and he didn’t look like he was having his best day. Even so, Hilda kept him together.
Watching that first ride sort of set the day’s tone for me. I had been expecting some dazzling score of 85% from Hilda and the rest of those top dogs, but here were no wildly high scores. Most scored in the low to mid 60s. The biggest AHA that hit me on Saturday was those riders were trying just as hard as I do. Riding Grand Prix or Prix St. George isn’t any easier than riding Training Level.
Throughout the course of the day, I saw horses that were soft and round one minute, inverted the next. There were horses that spooked in the corner; horses that didn’t have much activity, horses that didn’t lengthen; and so on. I saw some very lovely riders, especially at Fourth Level and above, and I saw some really poor riders, and surprisingly, they weren’t at Introductory Level.
Saturday was a great learning day for me. It really helped to illustrate that dressage is not easy for anyone. Every rider out there is struggling with something. I’ve had it in my mind that if I could only get through Training Level, my problems will be over. Saturday’s classes showed me that I need to change my expectations, or I will forever be disappointed. There is no promised land. As you get better, the tests just get harder. I think the trick is to always ride in the moment. Michael Schaffer, who wrote Riding in the Moment, says on the final page of his book, “Much more important than moving on at exactly the right time, or picking exactly the right exercise, or always riding just the right way, is having exactly the right attitude… Attitude Trumps Technique.”
I think I am getting the right attitude. More tomorrow …
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2022 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2022 Show Schedule
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(*) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
2022 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2 Scores/1 Judges/60%: